San Francisco pushes for 'green' buildings

Feb. 10, 2011 at 9:11 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- San Francisco says it will require owners of non-residential buildings to make public how much energy each building consumes each year.

The Board of Supervisors said the "green building" ordinance passed Tuesday will improve energy efficiency in existing buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy costs and create green jobs, reported.

The ordinance also requires commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet to conduct energy-efficiency audits every five years.

"San Francisco needs to increase the energy and resource efficiency of existing buildings if we are going to meet our aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets," Mayor Edwin Lee said. "This ordinance not only helps educate building owners about what they need to do to save energy and money, but it will also boost our local green jobs economy."

Under the ordinance, building owners would have to benchmark the energy use of their buildings using a free online tool provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and file the results annually with the city.

Knowing and comparing their energy usage could convince building owners to make their properties more energy efficient with currently available products and services, city officials say.

"San Francisco currently offers energy efficiency audits for businesses through our Energy Watch program, and we have learned that up to 70 percent of business that have an audit will take action and conduct a retrofit," said Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco's Environment Department.

"We expect this ordinance will deliver similar returns with existing buildings, which could lead to a 50 percent reduction in commercial building energy use within 20 years."

"Millions of dollars go wasted every year because buildings aren't as energy-efficient as they could be," Steven Ring at commercial real estate broker Cushman and Wakefield said.

"By eliminating energy waste, property owners could be enjoying the benefits of that cash and at the same time creating good jobs for energy management professionals and the construction industry."

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